Pain has a surprisingly large psychological element. Pain that is expected is subjectively more intense than pain that occurs accidentally.
Simple suggestion can produce pain. If people have electrodes attached to their forehead, with no current flowing, and not linked to any electrical equipment, and are they are told that it might give them a headache, 80% of people will report a headache! Oppositely, placebo tablets, or injections of saline solution, can alleviate strong pain.
Another absolutely incredible psychological fact is that there is no pain at all actually in the body. There are only pain receptors that tell the brain that so much damage is occurring in a particular location. Its real perception is in a body-image within the brain. The brain-computer constantly monitors the position, minutely, of each part of the body – as if providing data for a video game. An amount of pain corresponding to the reported damage, conveyed by the receptors, is then constructed in the relevant part of the body-image – not the physical body. Experiments show that the body-image can be fooled, so the pain may seem to observers to be present in mid-air! Since the pain is a mental construction, it can theoretically be ‘deconstructed’ using psychological procedures. Paradoxically, the brain itself has no sensitivity to pain.
‘Phantom limb pain’ may be felt in persons who have had a limb removed. The term is not correct, though, because the illusion can be applied to any part of the body – a woman who has had a breast removed may still have a strong sense of its presence. This again shows that the body-image is where the body-sensation is really felt.
Some pain is psychosomatic in that deep unconscious psychological conflicts produce the discomfort. The pain may constitute a simple metaphor. Thus, someone who is plagued by a person who is a ‘pain in the neck’ may find that they develop a corresponding symptom!
We would never have developed as a species if we did not experience pain. Very rarely, individuals are born with no pain receptors. They don’t usually survive long. They might chew off their fingers and tongue, with no realisation of the damage. The pain of appendicitis would go completely unrecognised. Clearly, pain is an essential warning system.
All species have to experience pain. Earthworms produce natural pain-killers in their minute ‘brain’. It is not logical to think that such small creatures only experience a little amount of pain – pain has to be potentially excruciating in all animals for it to be effective. The principle even applies to one-celled creatures.
Hypnotherapists of course only deal with pain that has first been medically examined. Some chronic pain is not useful and that may be the sort where hypnotherapy can be utilised. Everyone is different, and the best pain relief happens with those who are ‘deeper trance subjects’.
Direct methods of pain control involve giving strong hypnotic suggestion to the person. Several indirect procedures may also be relevant. For instance, insensitivity may be induced in a hand (‘glove anaesthesia’), and the numbness ‘transferred’ from the hand to a painful area. Another method is to ‘displace’ the pain from one area to another where it might be more tolerable; or the pain might be ‘substituted’, say, from a throbbing pain to a very itchy sensation. Hypnotic pain relief has been used successfully for suitable subjects, in childbirth, dentistry, and surgery.
We offer treatment for pain control in Egham, Surrey, London, etc.